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Fleeing Abroad

The communist regime closed its citizens into the borders fortified by the barbed wire and it forbade them freedom of travelling. Escapes connected with illegal border crossing often represented the only option of how to avoid persecution in this country - in other words – how to live in a free world. The regime tried to prevent fleeing abroad also at the cost of killing its own citizens by shooting of soldiers of the Border Guard (PS), by the electric barricades, landmines, or by specially trained Border Guard dogs.  At the whole Czechoslovak part of the “iron curtain”, there were during the communist era killed up to 500 people of different nationalities.

Photo: Juraj Anoškin


  In the year 1953 he and his sister were arrested and sentenced for high treason, because Juraj had told his friend about the best area to flee across the border. He was given four and his sister three years of imprisonment. He served his sentence in Jáchymov mines. After being released he returned back to Bratislava where he started to work as a draughtsman.

Photo: Oto Batelka


  During the oppression period he used to help people to cross the border, for what he was sentenced and imprisoned. After being granted amnesty he was released from prison; however, subsequent period full of uncertainty culminated in retracting the amnesty. When the State Security tried to arrest him for the second time, he managed to escape but only for a short period of time.

Photo: Ján Brichta


  The communist regime didn't allow him to study theology and to become a priest, so he decided to escape abroad. However, at that time Morava river  was swollen and he was caught there by members of the Border Guard. Ján imagined going studying, but a harsh interrogation and years in Jáchymov labour camps awaited him instead.

Photo: Alfonz Czima


  He was an expert in the field of building industry, so the State Security had prospecting reasons to train him to be a good collaborator. He saw actions of the state authorities that he refused to participate in. After his dismissal from the State Security, he fled to Canada where he worked with immigrants.

Photo: Imrich Danko


  Even after the communists had taken over the government, Imrich Danko led a very descent life. Everything changed right after his brother’s escape to Austria in 1952. The State Security accused him of participating in his brother’s escape across the border and sentenced him to eight years of imprisonment.

Photo: Fridrich Fritz


  Fridrich Fritz was a student of theology. He delivered counterfeit identity cards to priests who were detained in the town of Podolínec. After dissolving the seminary, he had decided to continue studying theology abroad; however, on the way there he was detained by the border guard. He was charged with the offence of high treason and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment.

Photo: Alexander Gordon


  Although his father lost his business in the process of Aryanization and both parents were forced to move out, escape and hide, German soldiers found them and they were transported to the concentration camp. As a medical student Alexander was sent to the VI. labour battalion and worked at various workplaces. In his situation it was like living in a paradise.

Photo: František Granec


  An active member of the Bratislava group called White Legion (Biela légia) and a rescuer of many people, František Granec, was sentenced for helping people escape across the Iron Curtain to five years of imprisonment. Since he was still underage, he spent three years of his youth in various Czechoslovak correctional facilities.

Photo: Judita Zuzana Grossmanová


  Though she and her family managed to avoid being sent to concentration camp, Judita knows the horrors of human hatred very well. She had to face up to it many times. Her life was full of fear, hiding out and constant struggle in various forms. However, she is Jewess by birth and she stays Jewess till the end of her life.

Photo: Jozef Hrdý


  His way to the priesthood led through his love for sports. It stayed a part of his life even after his escape across the border of his native land, Slovakia, in 1949. He didn’t abandon his sport activities also in the period when he lived in an exotic environment of Latin America. There he gained the heart of hundreds of predominantly young people.

Photo: Ivan Hupka


  Ivan Hupka and his wife worked in Bratislava broadcasting studio of the Czechoslovak Television. Events from August 1968 caught them there as well. During the occupation period Ivan cooperated with the Czechoslovak Television staff and engaged himself in the production of its media coverage. However, hopelessness, fright of the future, inability to assert his attitudes, and a lack of freedom led him to decision to leave Slovakia and settle down in far Australia.

Photo: Mária Hupková


  Mária Hupková worked for the Czechoslovak Television (CST). She was there even when the Warsaw Pact troops took over the building of the CST in August 1968. As she felt hopeless, frightened, and constantly monitored, she decided to leave Slovakia and move as far as it was possible from all those horrors - to distant Australia.

Photo: Viliam Kasperkevič


  He tried to cross the borders, see the world. However, in 1952 the State Court sentenced him to 11 years of imprisonment for consorting with an agent of the British Secret Service.

Photo: Ladislav Kisska


  Due to his acquaintance with Albert Púčik and Anton Tunega, who were executed in one of the most significant fabricated political trials held in 1950s in Czechoslovakia, he had to experience not only cruel investigation, but also forced labour camps. Fleeing from the clutches of the Iron Curtain was a solution of his hopeless situation.

Photo: Milan Krajčovič


  Journey. This simple word could describe the entire life of Milan Krajčovič. He didn’t agree with the regime and its sharp practices thus he attempted to flee abroad. However, he has never managed to realise his dream about emigration. They caught, arrested and interrogated him at various places. Subsequently they sentenced him as well. He served his sentence in various prisons and labour camps. He was rehabilitated in 1990.

Photo: Ivan Lefkovits


               He is honoured as a specialist in the field of immunology. He lectures at the university in Switzerland, in the city of Basel where he also lives. He was born in Prešov and as a six-year-old boy he experienced the hell of concentration camps Ravensbrück and Bergen-Belsen. He was forced to pretend being deaf-and-dumb, with his brother they escaped from an orphanage, and when he wanted to cross the border dressed up like a girl, he betrayed himself. He survived bombings, death marches and he also witnessed the worst horrors that happened during the last days of Bergen-Belsen camp.

Photo: Don Ernest Macák


  Don Ernest Macák, a man persecuted because of faith and care for his confreres, a cooperator of the Vatican Radio during the communist totality, a missionary of Slovaks in Basil, the first director of a newly opened Grammar School of Ján Bosco in Šaštín, a writer and a former provincial of Salesians, but precisely a man of deep faith and an enthusiastic Salesian priest.

Photo: Tibor Spitz


  In 1942 his family thanks to certain “exceptions” was not deported to concentration camps. After the Slovak National Uprising began in 1944, because of the threat of transports they began hiding. Their Christian friends offered them the first refuge, however, during the winter 1944/45 they were forced to stay down in a forest bunker. In 1968 he emigrated through Cuba into the USA, where he lives until today.

Photo: Anton Srholec


  His only desire to study and become a priest drove him behind the borders of his homeland. However, this was a sufficient reason for the communist regime to sentence him to twelve-year imprisonment. Neither hard work in Jáchymov mines, nor constant monitoring from the side of the State Security discouraged him from seeking the common speech understandable for both sides.

Photo: Jossi Steiner


  As a six-year-old child he and his family experienced the hell of the holocaust. They were searched; they ran, hid out and afterwards got to ghetto. They spent nine months hidden behind so called “double wall” in the house of Mr. Ján Mozolák. Nine people lived in the space 1,5m wide and 5m long.

Photo: Vladimír Štúr


  Twenty year old Vladimír was arrested in 1950 because of the attempt to leave the country. Subsequently he was condemned to 15 years of imprisonment. Twelve of those years he worked in forced labour camps Mariánska, Vojna, and Bytíz.

Photo: Emil Švec


  He was arrested by the State Security and sentenced to six years of prison for high treason. After releasing from the custody, he couldn´t find any job so he fled to Austria in a crop-dusting airplane. In 1961 he was convicted in absentia for espionage and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Later on, he was attacked, wounded, and kidnapped from Austria to Czechoslovakia by the State Security forces.

Photo: Eugénia Anoškinová - Vyskočilová


  In 1952 she and her brother helped their friend to flee abroad. A year later she was arrested and sentenced for high treason. She served her sentence in Ruzyně, in Pankrác and in Želiezovce as well.

Photo: Bibiana Wallnerová


  An attempt to flee across the borders to find freedom cost her sister her life. Bibiana and her parents ended up in prison, where they spent many years; however, her father never returned. Neither the cruel fate, nor the hard “prison school” managed to break her and knocked her sense of humour that helps her even today to go through the hardest situations.